A BEGUILING HISTORY…..THE SOUTHERNMOST HOUSE

Big trees from little acorns grow.

The story of Key West. A tiny island 4 x 2.5 miles. A huge history. Whatever the eye can see, a story anxious to be told.

The Southernmost House. 1400 Duval Street. The corner of Duval and South Streets.  An historic mansion sitting on the Atlantic Ocean.

The Southernmost was built in 1897 by Judge Jeptha Vining Harris. The cost $250,000. An extremely huge sum in those days.

The Judge’s wife was Florida Curry. Florida was the youngest daughter of William Curry, Florida’s first millionaire.

A three story structure. Queen Anne Victorian in design. Open water views. Public rooms, two story balconies, and large glass stained windows to catch the ocean breezes.

Elegant.

The new Curry home had one oddity. Only one bedroom.

Electricity was a novelty at the time. Florida retained the services of Thomas Edison to oversee the design and installation of an electrical system.

Socialization and entertainment on a humongous scale took place during the years the Judge and Florida resided in the House.

Soon came the prohibition years 1919-33. An air conditioning system was installed. Air conditioning as new as electricity was when installed.

The use of the mansion changed. It became a speakeasy. The first floor was turned into a restaurant. The second was utilized for casino gambling. The third for “socializing.”

The Southernmost was visited during the prohibition years by celebrities and gamblers. The House was a stop over on the way to Havana.

The 1940’s found the House being turned into a night club. The Cafe Cayo Hueso. A gathering place for the rich and famous. Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, Truman Capote, Tallulah Bankhead, Louis Armstrong, and Charles Lindberg.

The Southernmost was completely renovated in 1949 for use once again as a private residence. Many dignitaries visited. Spain’s King Juan Carlos, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Jimmy Carter.

Today, the Southernmost House has acquired a new dignity and elegance. One bedroom when constructed in 1897. Now a class 18 room bed and breakfast.

Spent yesterday afternoon at Hot Dog Church with Donna, Terri and friends. A weekly lesbian gathering. Good food and company. A few males are welcome. I am one of them.

The event is held at Aqua’s Back Bar. Lauri in charge.

Later in the evening, I enjoyed a light dinner with Donna and Terri at their home.

Bear is getting big. Only 18 weeks old. Looks full grown already. Well trained. I am still his buddy. He lay next to me with his leg on mine.

Terri singing tonight! She is the featured performer at Aqua’s Dueling Bartenders. The place will be packed with those wanting to hear Terri sing.

I am doing the blog late this morning. I had to be at the hospital early this morning for a barium swallow test. Suspect I will be in Miami in June for surgery.

Enjoy your day!

 

 

THE WEDDING

The sun shining. A tiny dock sitting on the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. A small group of white chairs. Harp music in the background.

The setting for the marriage of Chris and Don at 7 last night at the Hyatt.

Chris her usual lovely self. Her beauty even more pronounced by the lovely long white dress she wore. Don in casual attire. Referred to by the natives as Key West formal.

The perfect couple being married in a perfect setting.

Great reception! My first wedding at the Hyatt. A job well done.

The reception was on the second floor. A round room with windows floor to ceiling. Surrounded by a balcony. Guests intermingling while enjoying good drink, food and music.

Don and Chris’ friends all wonderful people. Enjoyed again the company of Trish aka Trixie and John, Phil and Christina, Joon, and Gilly. Met the wedding couple’s families. Chris’ parents, Don’s two sisters and brother, Don’s children. Joon’s charming parents who had arrived from South Korea. And many more.

I sat with John, Ollie, Bridget, the minister who married Chris and Don. And another woman. A good table!

I especially enjoyed Bridget. Bridget Geraghty. In from Chicago. Ollie’s guest.

A beautiful and charming young lady. Makes her living working for politicians. She is presently on the staff of the Democrat seeking the Illinois governorship. An interesting conversation. Especially since I am a political junkie.

She came to dance! She could dance! Ollie did a good job in keeping up with her.

The women knew how to dress. They dressed. All lovely. The men go casual. Referred to again as Key West formal.

I snuck out at 10:30. Already past my bed time. I cannot keep late hours as I once did.

An example of how some of the wedding party had been partying. I missed them friday night at the Chart Room. They arrived after I left. They closed the Chart Room around 1. A bunch then went to the outside bar at Don’s Place till it closed at 4.

Yet, they were all bright and shiny for the wedding last night!

Spent yesterday afternoon watching the kids’ March For Our Lives on TV. Must be honest. I shed a few tears. Raw emotions exhibited on the screen.

A movement that cannot be stopped. A cultural change. The NRA has met its match.

So too Marco Rubio.

Rubio set his path on becoming President. He can forget it. He won’t be able to be elected dog catcher after these high schoolers get done with him.

Key West participated in the March. Kicked off at noon at South Beach, marched down Duval to Mallory Square. Photos in this morning’s KONK Life E-Blast indicate hundreds participating. Could be a thousand.

And who was the leader of the band at one point. Laurie. Laurie from Aqua. Laurie always comfortable with a mike in her hand. Laurie who is always available to help someone or a cause. There she was in one of the photos standing by the mike her arms raised high.

Loyola-Chicago won again! Going to the Final Four! Good for them! Loyola a #11 seed beat the #1 seed Kansas yesterday.

Today is Palm Sunday. The beginning of Holy Week for Christians. The beginning of a holy week for Jews, also.

For Christians, Palm Sunday marks the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Within a week, He would be crucified.

Palm Sunday was a big deal in an Italian Catholic household. Everyone went to Church. Even those who rarely or never went. To get palms. Everyone got as many as they wanted.

It was part of the tradition to visit the homes of family and friends and exchange warm greetings while exchanging palms.

Every family had a talented Uncle who could make fancy crosses of all sizes, hats, and baskets from the palms.

Today, no more. Sometime in the 1960’s, the Church got niggardly with the palms. Only one palm per person. My recollection is that the palms had become expensive.

The tradition of visiting and exchanging continued. However, you had to make sure you received a palm in return. Otherwise, you had none to give at the next house visited.

I will be glued to the TV set at 8 tonight. 60 Minutes featuring Stoney Daniels! Ho, ho, ho. What will we learn?

Enjoy your Sunday!

SPRING BREAK STORY

Spring break was not for me during my college days. Who could afford it!

My education however did provide many “spring breaks” world wide later in life.

Several years ago, I experienced a sort of spring break. Reported the story in my blog at the time. An amusing episode.

This has been spring break week in Key West. It brought a Key West spring break experience to mind. Several years ago, a couple were visiting. We were out on Duval one night. Took them to Irish Kevin’s. A young people’s place. This old man especially liked it because the young ladies were often induced to take to the stage and expose their breasts.

The place was crowded with spring breakers. My friends my age. We worked our way to the bar and ordered drinks. The college students were pleasant. They engaged us in conversation. One asked what we were doing in Key West during spring break? What were we doing in Irish Kevin’s?

I lied. I did not tell them about the bare breasts. Instead, I responded, “We’re retired senior citizens who returned to college to get our degrees…..Decided we should do spring break, also!”

We were the heroes of the night! Could not buy a drink. Spent three hours with the kids having fun. Just college students hanging out together.

Another good sunday yesterday.

Spent the afternoon watching the PGA golf tournament. Tiger Woods was playing. His best performance in recent years!

He came in second. One stroke behind. His putting failed him. Otherwise, he would have won by several strokes.

The man who went years without missing a putt under 5 feet, missed a few yesterday. Two from 5 feet. Two more from 2-3 feet. His age? He is 42. Or, does he need to work at it more?

Interestingly, he sunk 2 or 3 putts from the 20 foot range.

Later in the afternoon to Hot Dog Church. Pastor Lauri as usual presiding. George, Art, Donna, Terri, and Bear already at the bar.

Glad I went! Met two former Syracuse University people.

First, Stacey Veeder. She took the empty seat at the bar next to me. My last name sounded familiar to her. Not from Key West. Where? From the recesses of her mind. She spent most of her career working in administration at Syracuse University. I was active with the University during certain of her years.

She was married. To a man. Surprised me. Hot Dog Church is a lesbian gathering. I was there by special invitation.

Married if I recall correctly 37 years. To Steve Wexler. Steve was a professor at the Syracuse College of Law for 21 years. Beginning in 1979.

She telephoned Steve to come over so we could meet. We did for a short time. We had not met during his teaching years. I graduated in 1960. However, I was a member and then chairman of the Law School Board of Visitors for many years. There was much we could talk about.

Hopefully, I will run into Stacey and Steve tonight at Dueling Bartenders.

Terri sings tonight at Dueling Bartenders. Tom, Rick and Terri will blow the walls out with their powerful renditions of yesterday tunes.

Speaking of Syracuse, the team made it to the NCAA Tournament. The listing announced last night. Sixty eight teams invited. Syracuse #68. Who cares? We made it! That’s enough!

I was surprised. Still maintain we do not belong. God was good however and snuck us in.

He will be even better if He permits us to make it to the Final Four.

Dinner last night was at Donna and Terri’s. George, Art and I enjoyed Chinese take out with the ladies.

For the past two years, I have frequently written about robots. Always lecturing they are coming and we are not preparing for them.

Flippy was introduced to Pasadena hamburger lovers as Flippy the Burger Flipping Robot recently. He can cook 2,000 burgers a day. He was introduced by the Cali Group that operates several hundred fast food burger places.

Flippy lasted two days. He did his job. The support staff did not. They could not. I refer to the humans who prepare the patties for the grill and those who pile on lettuce and other fixins’.

The humans could not keep up with Flippy.

Flippy is on leave while experts look the situation over to decide how humans have to function to keep up with Flippy.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt communicated with citizens via a method which became known as a fireside chat. No television back then. Only radio. The President would speak to the nation in comforting tones and keep them updated on what was happening. His first  fireside chat on this day in 1933. A time of serious economic distress. Thirty percent unemployment. People scared.

Trump’s rallies are Roosevelt’s fireside chats. In form only. Not substance.

Trump rants and raves, demeans, criticizes, swears, etc. Far from Presidential. Not in the style of real leaders like Roosevelt, Kennedy, Johnson and Reagan.

His bully tough guy performances clear evidence the man lacks Presidential qualities.

Irma and Me doing well. I am impressed with the sales. My first book was a disaster sales wise. Those of you who have not yet ordered the book, please do so. You will enjoy!

Irma and Me is available through Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.

Enjoy your day!